By News Team
23rd February 2021
The Europa League knockout rounds are in full swing now as we get set for the round of 32 second legs this week.
There’s plenty of Premier League interest and we’ve previewed three of the key fixtures to keep an eye on.
Spurs to march on
Spurs and Wolfsberger get the round of 32 second legs under way when they face off on Wednesday evening at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and after Jose Mourinho’s side’s 4-1 victory in the first leg last week, this tie looks to be as good as over. Indeed, no team in Europa League history has overturned a three-goal deficit from the first leg at home during the knockout stages of the competition. As a result, Spurs are 1/2000 to advance to the next round while they are 2/7 to win the second leg, with Wolfsberger 17/2 to cause a shock on the night and land a victory.
Spurs have not had the best of times in the Premier League of late, currently sitting in ninth place in the table, so they will be keen to keep up momentum in this competition with another win here. The Europa League represents a real opportunity for a trophy for Spurs this season and they are the 6/1 second favourites to go all the way.
No Spurs player has scored more Europa League goals this season than Carlos Vinicius with four, netting each of these in his last three appearances, and he should be given another run-out against Wolfsberger. The striker is 13/5 to break the deadlock against the Austrian side.
Arsenal set for tough night against Benfica
Spurs’ north London rivals Arsenal, meanwhile, have a far tougher route to the next round. While last week’s 1-1 first-leg draw against Benfica was a decent result given the Gunners were the away side on the night, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed several chances and they should really be in a much better position heading into Thursday’s second leg.
Mikel Arteta will have taken some encouragement from Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday in that they kept the game alive until the end, but the fact remains that generally the Gunners are still a pretty inconsistent team, and they could well slip up here. That said, they are the 5/6 favourites for victory and 4/9 to advance to the next round. Benfica are 16/5 for the win and 13/8 to progress.
With the second leg taking place in Greece, Arsenal fans can take further heart from the fact that their side have won on each of their previous two visits there, both against Olympiakos in 2015 and 2020. Bukayo Saka should be their danger man once more. Since the start of last season Saka has had a direct hand in nine of Arsenal’s 37 goals in the Europa League and he’s 2/1 to score on the night here.
Europa favourites United the team to beat
On paper, a tie against Real Sociedad looked a tricky one for Manchester United, but last week’s 4-0 first-leg victory brushed aside any concerns in style. Inspired by Bruno Fernandes’ double, United showed once again that when they are at their best, few teams can stop them. As a result, they are now the 7/2 favourites to win the Europa League this season.
With the Premier League title race not quite conceded yet by the Red Devils to their Manchester rivals, there could be a few changes to their side on Thursday night. But with the likes of Donny van de Beek and Mason Greenwood to call on, United have impressive strength in depth and are the 10/11 favourites for victory here, even with the possibility of some expected rotation.
Also counting in United’s favour is the fact they are unbeaten in 14 Europa League matches at Old Trafford, since losing 3-2 to Marcelo Bielsa’s Athletic Bilbao in 2011-12, while Real Sociedad also remain winless in their three matches with United across all competitions, drawing one and losing two. Sociedad are 3/1 to buck that trend here and record a victory.